Tag Archive: Casanova Center


gottfredson

The University of Oregon dodged a bullet.

The NCAA fired a shot across the bow.

The NCAA slapped the Ducks on the wrist.

What other metaphors seem appropriate just days after the not-as-big-as-we-initially-thought judgment day?

Is the coast clear for the University of Oregon?

That one is easy, no.

Teaching upper-division public relations at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and preparing client presentations during my days with Edelman Public Relations and LSI Logic, I became intimate with SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

UO leaders, whether they are university types at Johnson Hall or jock types at the Casanova Center, all know the exhilaration of being shot at and missed (another metaphor). Is this a time to celebrate? Or as the Independence Day holidays near, should the academic and athletic types use this welcome respite to reflect and ponder?

The next time, the university may not be so lucky.

Some imply that Uncle Phil’s money solves all problems. When something sounds so simple and frankly too good to be true, you know that is exactly the case.

First and foremost, the university must provide access to all worthy students and it must offer a quality education to all who walk through its gates. There are nearly 25,000 students that need to be educated in the best way possible at the lowest possible cost. Pac-12 titles, BCS Bowl wins and Sweet 16s are nice and provide onus to Oregon’s brand of success, but that is not the university’s primary purpose.

Taking all of these factors into account, how can Oregon totally restore its image for integrity, overcome previous charges of “mediocrity,” and most of all build upon its reputation, enhance its brand and give more charge to its cachet? That’s a tall order and that’s where a SWOT comes into play.

Oregon Strengths

● When considering the strengths of the University of Oregon, some will automatically think of the “O,” and will immediately tie it to the Nike “Swoosh.” Yes, Phil Knight is easily Oregon’s most famous alum, but he is not the only former undergraduate student who matriculated in Eugene.

Here are some other strengths: the relatively new President Michael R. Gottfredson, a breath of fresh air after his combative predecessor. The university boasts strong professional schools, including Architecture and Allied Arts, Business, Education, Law and my favorite, Journalism and Communication, and is widely regarded as a center for research and innovation.allen1

The university and the Eugene community are universally seen as leaders in sustainable environmental management and a healthy place to live. Eugene is a quality-of-life play … people want to reside here regardless of the temperate and temperamental climate.

Oregon Weaknesses

● When it comes to weaknesses, the comments made by former (read: fired) President Richard Lariviere and amplified by a frustrated Phil Knight about Oregon pursuing a path to “mediocrity” still hurt.

Oregon is located in America’s cul-de-sac, out-of-sight, out-of-mind of those who reside particularly in God’s Time Zone (e.g., EDT, EST). Geography and a small population will always be a factor. The State of Oregon has dropped its annual support to the university to about 5 percent of the university’s total budget, receiving $44 million in university generated revenues, and simply giving about the same amount back to UO. As a consequence, tuition is going up again, this time 5.8 percent, and the faculty has unionized. They are demanding a first-ever Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) … lovely.

Oregon Opportunities

● Surveying UO’s opportunities there is the continual upgrading of Oregon’s academic reputation (frosh numbers and GPAs are increasing) and enhancing athletic excellence. The university is looking north about 60 miles to Salem to see if the legislators will pass SB 270 (Haas, D-Beaverton) that would give UO its own institutional governing board.

The trick here is to convince the capitol movers-and shakers of the obvious: The University of Oregon is the state’s flagship university without spooking Southern Oregon University, Eastern Oregon University and Oregon Tech. We love you too.

If Salem is providing less-and-less, then it stands to reason to allow Oregon to have more of a say about how it will fund itself and build upon its impressive physical plant to better serve and meet the needs of its students.

Oregon Threats

● And what are the threats that keep the folks in Johnson Hall and the Casanova Center respectively up at night? The NCAA was one of them, and that monster has not totally gone away…it is merely taking a cat nap.

knightlibrary

Assuming the completion of an initial CBA, who will be the winner and who will be the loser? If the CBA negotiations are handled correctly on both sides – the university and United Academics – will be able to each legitimately declare victory. The university’s finances will pencil out and the academics will do what they do best: research and teach (in that order).

This successful scenario will avoid a faculty “action” and hopefully will reduce the upward pressure on student tuition, easing the hit on family pocketbooks and escalating student loan amounts.

There is also the perception threat: Uncle Phil will always come to the rescue. He is 75 and needs to dispense with $14.4 billion. Why not more for UO?

One suspects there will be more from Phil Knight…both athletically and academically … and the university will be thankful and humble. That does not remove either the challenges or the issues and the threats that need to be met and addressed. There are also tremendous opportunities as well.

It’s time to damn the torpedoes (another metaphor).

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/06/ncaa_gives_oregon_a_chance_to.html

http://www.forbes.com/profile/phil-knight/

oregon

“It (Football in the State of Oregon) can come back if the schools take the right step and improve the facilities,” – OSU Heisman Trophy Winner Terry Baker, Sporting News, 1986

“On average, the faculty likes it when the football team does better. And we understand that it takes some resources to attract the best people. But obviously we’re jealous when we see the difference between their facilities and the facilities we have for teaching,” UO economics professor Bill Harbaugh, Eugene Register-Guard, 2012

Is anyone nostalgic for the University of Oregon alumni tent set up in a gravel parking lot at Autzen Stadium?

How about wondering if the UO Athletic Department could scrap enough shekels together to pay the $125,000 guarantee to the visiting team?

Want to revisit those serious discussions about Oregon and Oregon State becoming members of the Big Sky Conference (i.e., visits to scenic Missoula, Bozeman and Pocatello)?

As a practicing Duckologist, I have steadfastly saved a well-worn copy of 1986 The Sporting News college football yearbook. Included in the issue is an article by former Oregonian sports columnist Nick Bertram describing the dreadful state of affairs for football in the State of Oregon.

Besides scrambling to pay the minimum to the visiting school, Oregon was averaging only 23,000 at Autzen Stadium. In fact, there was talk of putting a dome on Autzen. The Ducks were 23 years and counting since their last (Sun) bowl game, and 29 years since their last Rose Bowl. Next year, we will commemorate the 30th anniversary (“celebrate” is the wrong word) of the last scoreless game in NCAA football history, the 1983, 0-0 “Toilet Bowl” between Oregon and Oregon State.

The root of Oregon’s historic difficulties in recruiting, competing and winning, comes down to one word: Geography.

The nation’s 9th largest state in land mass is also one of the country’s least populated (3.4 million), isolated in America’s cul-de-sac and one of the rainiest. All of these factors worked against previous Oregon coaching regimes, including the one I served as a student manager in 1975 (e.g., Don Read et al.). USC, UCLA, Stanford, Cal, Arizona State and Washington do not face these same geographic obstacles.

The answers to unfavorable and unchangeable geography included targeting donor dollars to build the 101,000-square foot Casanova Center in 1991 to house the Athletic Department. They also consisted of finding recruiting diamonds in the rough by former Head Coaches Rich Brooks and Mike Bellotti; continuity of the coaching staff (five assistants with tenures exceeding two decades); and miraculously making the Rose Bowl in one special year in 1994. All of these accomplishments preceded the major involvement in the program by Uncle Phil.

If you do not know who is “Uncle Phil,” you should stop reading now.

Since that time, Oregon built the first indoor practice facility ($15 million) on the West Coast, directly addressing the rain issue, the 117,000 square-foot Moshofsky Center. Autzen was expanded to 54,000 and the stadium has been sold out for every game since 1999 with more than 60,000 being shoe-horned into the insane asylum by the Willamette. Back on campus, the university leased property at its main entrance to Phil Knight. In turn, he invested $41 million into an academic support center for student athletes and donated the John Jaqua Center back to the university.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This same out-of-the-box thinking: lease-build-donate plan is being used for the $68 million, 130,000-square foot football operations center, located adjacent to Autzen Stadium, the Moshofsky Center and the Casanova Center.

Oregon has come light years in the past 25 years, including winning the conference five more times since the 1994 Rose Bowl team. The Ducks are 34-6 in the last three years, including two visits to the Rose Bowl (winning this past January) and a trip to the BCS National Championship Game.

You would think everyone would be happy on campus by the success of the self-sufficient Athletic Department and “on average” that is the case, but jealousy still persists. Guess no good deed (or deeds) or achievement goes unpunished.

Some are now coming to the conclusion that college sports are big business. This point is evidenced by the debut this week of the Pac-12 network, which will provide $10 million in new revenue to each school’s athletic department. Some wonder if prime-time, college sports is inconsistent with the missions of great universities. They lament that an athletic arms race has ensued…and to some extent that is the case. It’s called competition.

There also has been an undeniable payoff that has benefitted academics as well. As a full-time instructor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, I marvel at the number of students who wear the school colors to class. Success on the field and the court contributes to greater morale on campus and in the classroom.

Obviously, I note the expenditures for athletics (e.g., the $227 million Matthew Knight Arena and PK Park for the Oregon baseball team), but I also walk by virtually every day the William W. Knight Law School and the Knight Library. Uncle Phil has not only benefitted students who happen to be athletes, but regular students who are not athletes.

Certainly, not every building on campus is state of the art, but nonetheless some are striking including the Lillis School of Business and soon the ($15 million for 15,000 new square feet of space) newly renovated Allen Hall for the School of Journalism and Communication. I am looking forward to teaching at the new Allen Hall starting in the winter term.

Is there a direct connection between the success and national stature of the Oregon Ducks and the dramatic increase in enrollment and donations to Oregon? Some may try to argue against this point, but I will go to the mat saying there has to be a correlation. Ten years ago, 19,000 attended Oregon. Today, there are 25,000 students. The average incoming freshman GPA was a record 3.59 last year. There are more students; they are smarter and their retention rate is higher. Something absolutely Ducky is happening.

Oregon is a state-assisted university with only single digit percent of its total costs being provided from Salem. The rest has to come from tuition, fees and donations. Winning builds pride and that in turns spurs check writing from alums and fans. With some governments around the nation coming to the realization that the spending orgy is over, more needs to come from those who can contribute to their favorite school.

I went to Oregon back in the 1970s, but earned my bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting Journalism from USC. This past March, I received my master’s degree in Communication and Society from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. And 23 years ago, I bought Oregon season seats at Autzen Stadium. I have been a witness to the Golden Age of Oregon football and an upgrade in academics as well. That’s what I call a job well done.

Yep, I was an Oregon fan before it was cool.

http://www2.registerguard.com/cms/index.php/duck-football/comments/lights-go-up-today-on-pac-12s-tv-network-era/

http://harbaugh.uoregon.edu/

http://www.registerguard.com/web/newslocalnews/28375820-41/center-football-athletics-university-knight.html.csp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Baker

http://www.ehow.com/info_8144923_history-sports-scholarships.html

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